In my blog post, New Endeavors in Poly Land, I wrote about becoming conscious of my efforts to keep my people mostly insulated from each other. In my previous poly dynamic there was so much animosity and jealousy between partners that every visit was precluded by hours and hours of damage control. My coping mechanism was to keep each one in their individual silos, like a cone of silence but with sex. My efforts were futile, of course, because relationships aren’t tidy parcels that can be put away and then brought out when it’s convenient for everyone. The worst part was having that pattern creep its way into my new poly dynamic with new partners that had nothing to do with my past. It was a real bitch realizing that I was the only one in the room with a hangup. Everyone talked about how nice it would be to meet one another as I smiled and nodded, secretly freaking out that it was the beginning of the end.
In my old poly life, I was responsible for the emotional well-being of one partner in particular. I chose to take that role, and anything I did or said in regards to my other boyfriend was grounds for a huge blow-up. I spent days before a visit reassuring him, promising him nothing would change between us, swearing up and down that my time away from him wasn’t depleting anything from our relationship. Sure, we said that we were poly but the way the relationship worked was more like grudgingly permitting me to cheat on the side. In the end I knew I’d be emotionally punished somehow for loving the other person.
Fast forward to when my new partners expressed an interest in meeting, and those old feelings of dread and despair nosed their way into my thoughts. I knew I had to change it. I couldn’t bear to live in constant anxiety again, fearful that one comment about a partner would send the other plummeting. As I dilly-dallied about how to change my patterns, Boy Scout gave me a command. He wanted me to arrange a night where we would go out with Zen and his wife for dinner, and these two important men in my life would finally meet. I won’t lie. I was one deep breath away from a panic attack, but then I sat down to figure out how to do this in the best way possible. I can do a few things well, and throwing a party is one of them. So that’s exactly what I planned to do: throw a poly dinner party for all my people. (Commence breathing into a paper bag.)
I figured that I could best diffuse my anxiety by spreading it out over a group. I wouldn’t obsess specifically about Boy Scout and Zen meeting if Liri was part of that mix. Add everyone’s other partners plus me cooking dinner, and there would be so much going on that I wouldn’t fret about whether or not they liked each other. The more I thought about the dinner party idea, the more it appealed to me. I love feeding those that I care about, and I wanted everyone to know how significant they were to me.
I chose the menu, made my grocery list and began cleaning. I broke out the prep work over four days, wrote it all down in my planner and picked out the china and crystal. I ignored my anxiety as I wrote out the invitations, sketching out the small section of our poly tree that pertains to me. There were three parts to the invite; RSVP with a song for our dinner soundtrack, bring something you liked to drink and a story to share. Boy Scout, feeling somewhat responsible for my workload, helped iron linens and brought take-out when I was too busy baking the carrot cake. He also lugged a cardboard box full of cooking magazines upstairs and didn’t ask me once if we could just burn it in the back yard already.
The night of our poly dinner arrived and there I was, wearing my June Cleaver dress with my hair in pigtails, gazing across the chicken provencal and my grandparents’ wedding china at Zen and his wife. Boy Scout sat on my right and Liri was on my left. Dr. Hammer sat at the end of the table between Matt, Liri’s boyfriend, and the lovely woman he’s dating, Laccaria. I had a glass full of brass monkey and was feeling a bit surreal around the edges. I looked around the table at everyone and thought, these are my people. With all their different personalities, sexualities, flaws, drama and complex lives, they form my chosen group of friends and lovers.
My big fear was that my partners wouldn’t like each other. Zen pointed out to me not so long ago that I try to make each of my partners feel special. I love them for their unique qualities, and I focus on making sure that they know how much I appreciate them for it. Place them together at a party, though, and my individual approach became moot. I am a slave, a lover of rules and boundaries. As much as I wanted everyone together, I also dreaded the overlap. Lines were going to blur, and I wasn’t entirely certain that I could handle it gracefully.
Add to that the addition of a mystery guest, Dr. Dreamhammer. Dr. Hammer and I have only recently begun an association outside of emails and text messages, but our budding relationship has decidedly D/s overtones and we’ve spoken openly about our desire to bring our Secretary fantasies to real life. Those details, however, will wait for another blog post. I mostly fretted about the kinksters getting along with the traditionals, the guys liking each other and my girlfriend, while Nikki just wanted to Skype us with a bowl of popcorn and a vodka tonic in hand to watch all the fun. Despite my worries, though, everyone talked and ate and seemed to enjoy themselves. I also managed to keep my shit together and gradually relaxed enough to have a good time.
This week I’ve been debriefing my partners one by one, asking for their impressions and opinions about the evening. As Zen said, “there were a lot of strong personalities in the room.” Meaning that not everyone was going to peel off their clothes and have crazy monkey sex on my dining room table. My partners liked each other, though, and have even exchanged contact info so that they can correspond on their own. (Where the hell did I put that paper bag??) And Boy Scout and Dr. Hammer may have a lunch date. I told them that they can’t talk about me, only politics, religion and their penises in that order. Dr. Hammer’s response was, “so Boy Scout, where do you like to put your penis?” HAHAHA, Dr. Hammer. Don’t even try it.
There were many parts of the evening that I loved; sitting beside my girlfriend, laughing at her incredible wit and simply loving her for exactly who she is. Resting my bare foot on Boy Scout’s boots underneath the table and admiring the huge bouquet of flowers that he bought and arranged for the evening. Drinking the brass monkey that Dr. Hammer mixed and watching him fall victim to my crackeroni and cheese. Kissing Zen after the dining room had emptied of guests, his hand making its way under my skirt and down my panties. Ah yes, my people are amazing.
I thought that hosting the poly dinner would mean the end to that old relationship pattern that no longer worked, the closing paragraph to a chapter of my life. And I’m happy to report that the ghosts of my poly past have been banished except for the occasional twinge now and then. That night wasn’t an end, however. What I saw in the faces of the people sitting around my dinner table had everything to do with new beginnings. I made myself take a mental snapshot, because I always want to remember that specific moment in time. My poly story is only getting started, and no matter how our dynamic changes in the future, these people will always be in my heart. That in itself is the best happy ending I could hope for.